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Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho)

More than three million people have been caught trying to illegally cross the southern border since President Biden took office.

Taken together, the number would beat out Chicago for the third largest city in America. That would fill Boise State’s Albertsons Stadium 82 times. It exceeds the entire population of Idaho by more than one million people.

Incredibly, that three million number doesn’t even account for the more than half a million “gotaways” we know have disappeared into the U.S. since last October.

We are in a crisis, and this crisis did not happen by accident. We got here through a combination of bad decisions, bad policies, and rhetoric that allowed the southern border to devolve into a catch-all for human trafficking, criminal violence, and deadly drugs.

That is why as the lead Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, I released a report on the Biden administration’s failed policies which are spurring this crisis and outlined the steps needed to get us out of it. Then, I introduced the Solving the Border Crisis Act to implement commonsense solutions to secure the border and stop this disaster from getting any worse.

President Biden’s failed border policies have led criminal cartels to inhumane lengths, like packing vulnerable migrants into trucks and leaving them to die before reaching their intended destination. Crime syndicates are making huge profits, charging migrants upwards of $20,000 to be smuggled into the U.S. Meanwhile, record numbers of children are being exploited by cartel members who systematically force them to cross the border with adult strangers in an attempt to secure lax family unit treatment under Biden administration rules.

Over 16,000 criminals have been arrested at the border since the start of last year on charges ranging from sex crimes to homicide. Felons benefit from the “catch and release” loophole that perversely guarantees their release into the interior of our country if they are not accepted for deportation by another country within six months. This is a problem Senator Mike Crapo and I take seriously, and in June we cosponsored legislation to close that loophole.

These criminals are accelerating the flow of illicit drugs into the United States. We see this in Idaho every day. Recently, Idaho news outlets ran a story how the DEA had seized one million fentanyl pills in a single drug bust. If not for this monumental bust, some portion of these counterfeit pills would be in Idaho today. Here at home, fentanyl seizures have increased nearly 500 percent, and Idaho State Police Captain John Kempf has sounded the alarm that fentanyl is showing up in Idaho high schools and killing kids as young as 15 years old.

Until the border is secure, fentanyl will continue to infiltrate our communities with ease and kill Idahoans of all ages and walks of life.

We do not have to remain in this crisis. My bill, the Solving the Border Crisis Act, can end this border crisis by reinstating the effective immigration policies that President Biden ended on his first day in office including the extension of Title 42, immediately resuming construction of the border wall, and making the “Remain in Mexico” program permanent. I cannot stress enough the importance of implementing these solutions immediately to protect our children, our neighbors, our sovereignty, and our national security.

We have the tools to equip our southern border with the proper resources and infrastructure to combat this unconscionable surge. It’s just a matter of enforcing the rule of law and an Administration that can get its act together.

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